This immediate period following the tragedy in Colorado should be a time for personal reflection, empathy, and expression of support, not fuel for anyone’s political agenda
Before I begin, I would like to pay a small tribute to one of the victims who lost her life Friday night. I think it serves to remind us that these were real people with real lives, and tragedy (and in this case irony) are not strong enough words to describe the loss of these lives. She wrote a poignant piece on her own blog about the gift of life, “ After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given” (**). Rest in Peace Jessica (Redfield) Ghawy .
As is true of many Americans, the recent shooting in a Colorado movie theater has rocked my world. No, I do not have any personal connections to the city of Aurora. I did not know any of the victims or witnesses. But as a living, breathing human being, I still feel intense grief and shock. I am horrified by the details as they emerge. How can one individual so callously end the lives of 12 people and harm numerous others? How can so many innocent people attending a movie screening end up in a situation like this? What if it had been me or someone I loved?
Whenever such a thing happens, these questions come to mind, as they should. Horrible events serve to remind us that we are mortal beings, often vulnerable to tragic circumstances. There is no way to explain how or why, which creates even deeper pain and fear in many people’s minds. And despite our best efforts, there is no way possible to explain away the pain and fear or understand it. It is an irrational act by an irrational individual and defies all logic. Period.
Yesterday, as I watched the news, I found myself at a loss for words. I was filled with a profound sadness and even shed some tears as I listened to witness accounts on the news. I am not a religious person. Nevertheless, my heart still filled with sympathy, and I said a few silent prayers for those who were directly affected. What else could I do?
I expect that many Americans felt the way I did. I believe that we all were doing a little soul-searching and reflecting on our own lives and loved ones. I was pleased to see that the majority of our local and national leaders made it a priority to set aside their political agendas to extend condolences and express deep sympathy to the people of Aurora. Both Obama and Romney suspended campaign efforts, set aside their negative attacks, and kept their responses short and devoid of blame or negative rhetoric. Many other officials echoed the sentiment. I read through 57 comments gathered by the Huffington Post (4), and each expressed deep-felt sympathy. This is the way it should be in the wake of a national tragedy. It provides some measure of comfort to the American people and shows respect for those affected. Nevertheless, not all leaders followed suit. There were some who decided to take advantage of a tragedy to serve their own political agenda less than 24 hours afterwards. They could not even wait for 24 hours!!! This to me is vulgar, disrespectful, and just proves how callous and insensitive these individuals/ groups are.
A prime example of this is one politician who has proven again and again that he is a selfish, narrow-minded zealot, Michael Bloomberg. The man could not wait to espouse his view and barely acknowledged any of the victims before launching into his diatribe. He was joined by the mayor of Boston and the president of the Brady Campaign.
“You know, soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country. And everybody always says, ‘Isn’t it tragic,’ and you know, we look for was the guy, as you said, maybe trying to recreate Batman. I mean, there are so many murders with guns every day, it’s just got to stop. And instead of the two people — President Obama and Gov. Romney — talking in broad things about they want to make the world a better place, okay, tell us how.”
— New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. (1)
In a press release issued by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino wrote, “The fixes are easy and they are common sense. It’s about enforcing existing Federal laws and making sure we don’t let criminals buy weapons. We need to put a background check on all sales and require states to step up their reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to make sure we have a check that works. Maybe this will finally wake up Washington.” (2)
“As someone who has suffered the lasting impact of gun violence, and president of Brady (Campaign), I can tell you that we don’t want sympathy. We want action. Just this past April 16, the anniversary of the worst mass shooting in American history, 32 victims of gun violence joined us to demand Congress take action to stop arming dangerous people.”
—— Dan Gross, president of Brady Campaign (1)
The only question I ask is WHAT IN THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE? Why is it so difficult to allow at least 24 hours to pass before attempting to turn this into a measure for gun control? It is one thing for Americans to express their opinions and feelings, but these are supposed leaders. I call them “supposed” because in my opinion this type of behavior shows a lack of true leadership in a time of tragedy.
Just to illustrate, here are a few examples of how some who very strong viewpoints on gun control did not abuse this event to make a point. They took the higher ground, and in my opinion, showed true respect.
“Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is a member of a coalition called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, but when he issued a statement expressing shock and horror on Friday after a mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater, he had nothing to say about gun control” (3).
“The NRA said in a statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the community. NRA will not have any further comment until all the facts are known.” (3)
Some other thoughts to support how inconsiderate and brash the comments from Bloomberg, Menino, and Gross are the following comments:
“Moreover, it often isn’t immediately apparent what gun laws would have made a difference in specific cases” (3)
” ‘When there’s a crime such as this, it often takes a few days of police work to figure out if a gun loophole has been evaded to cause the crime or if there has been a hole in the gun laws to allow someone to get the guns,’ he [Jim Kessler] said” (3).
(**) Late Night Thoughts on the Eaton Center Shooting
(1) Condolences, calls for action among national reaction to deadly Colorado theater shooting
(2) MAYORS AGAINST ILLEGAL GUNS STATEMENTS ON AURORA SHOOTING
(3) Colorado shooting unlikely to spur changes in gun laws
(4) Shooting In Aurora, Colorado Sparks Outpouring Of Political Reaction
On the Tragic Shooting in Aurora, Colorado
Michael Bloomberg, NYC Mayor, Reacts To Colorado Shooting
Video: Mike Bloomberg Calls on Candidates to Address Gun Control